"I Drive A Foreign Car. Should I Feel Guilty?"

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
i drive a foreign car should i feel guilty

So opens a guest commentary by Ira Lacher in today’s Des Moines Register. And if you believe the Detroit line, you might assume this voice from the middle American heartland would answer in the affirmative. You’d be wrong. Lacher describes his impression of American cars as being “designed and put together by committee – a bunch of parts cobbled together. The steering wheel felt as if it were just sticking out of the dashboard. The gas and brake pedals seemed mere appendages to the floor. The seats were uncomfortable frames covered with cheap cloth. This wasn’t a car; it was a homemade personal computer! By contrast, every rented Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan seemed like a machine that functioned like one machine.” But when he recently purchased a Hyundai, Lacher clearly felt at least a few pangs of guilt.

“If the Big Three were in this much trouble a year and a half ago as I was car shopping, would it have mattered?” wonders Lacher. “Maybe. I might have taken Hyundai’s best offer to my fast-talking, quintessentially arrogant American-brand dealership and said, “Match this and you’ve got a sale. But based on my shopping experiences with them, I think I know what they would have said. I think they still felt that American consumers owed them something because after all, they were the American auto industry, the folks who remade the country, who beat the Nazis. They would have said, ‘No.’ And maybe that’s why even though the Big Three’s fall into Chapter 11 – and perhaps their demise – would psychologically and empirically hammer America, I wouldn’t feel responsible. It is not unpatriotic to want the greatest return for the money you work so hard to earn.”

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  • Driver23 Driver23 on Jan 01, 2009
    Are you saying the big 3 put a hypnotic trance on the public to induce them to buy suv’s? Amazing. Indeed. That trance is called advertisement. In case you are not aware, purpose of advertisement is to induce desire to buy stuff - doesn't matter if you really need it or not. That's why advertisement of alcohol and tobacco products is heavily regulated. Have a look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advertisement It is pretty easy to feed on someone sense of insecurity - there are a lot of products that specifically target this audience. Some companies at least have a bit or moral values not to go there. I am sure Google could make a lot of money on searching free p**n efficiently. But they don't - they have 'do no evil' stance. Detroit wanted every dollar they could make - no matter how. Who do you think lobbied to classify SUVs as trucks so they would not be taxed appropriately to their actual use - as passenger cars? Your astute observation is appreciated. Especially how Volvo made interesting cars… Yes, because I owned a few. Not anymore. They used to be frugal and had R models and came with a stick. Check it out: '97 850R is was 19/26 mpg. That was 10 years ago. Go compare specs on MSN Autos - they keep specs of old cars. '97 850 wagon has MORE leg room in the rear seat, same shoulder space and has better fuel economy. They were also very reliable.

  • U mad scientist U mad scientist on Jan 01, 2009
    Detroit quality is just perfect, consumers are stupid, buying cars from people with black hair and accented English is anti-American, yadda, yadda, yadda. Pch101, that’s a strawman argument with the added frisson of an accusation of racism. Hey, as long as we're on the subject, what about nationalism (you know, national socialism? lol) and xenophobia? -- This whole farce is so transparent: 1. Some large multinations runs factories in the midwest, and builds cars that lose money. 2. Some other large multinations run factories in the south, and builds cars that make money. But we have to support (1), because they're our large faceless corps, and they care about us, or something. Really? I will also note that pretty much none of the vitriol is directed at european manufacturers. Racism much?

  • Arthur Dailey I grew up in an era when a teenager could work pumping gas or bussing tables and be able to purchase a vehicle for a couple of thousand dollars and drive it with 'uninsured' status.If a parent advised on the purchase of the vehicle, they would most often point us to a large, stripped/base version, domestic sedan with the smallest possible engine.These cars generally had terrible driving dynamics and little to no safety features, but were easy to work, had large bench seats/interiors and not enough power to get out of their own way.
  • MaintenanceCosts I'll guess: 3rd owner, never did even basic maintenance, major component failed, car got towed from the apartment complex parking lot, no one bought it at auction because the repair bill exceeded the value.The chrome pillar appliques support this hypothesis.
  • MaintenanceCosts I'm generally in the "I want them to have all the new safety stuff" camp, but new cars are both too fast and too isolating these days. They mask speed enough that a new driver can get way in over his head without really realizing he's even going that fast. This is especially a concern with my youngest, who wants to do everything he does faster. (He has zero fear tearing down hills at 25 mph on his little 20" wheel bike.) I'm hoping for something that is slow and communicates speed well, although I'm not quite sure there is any such thing in today's market.
  • KOKing I test-drove a used Equus Ultimate (the one with all the back seat doodads) that was a trade-in at a Ford dealer, and although it was VERY nice to be in as a Lexus LS with Ultra Luxury, it was supposedly in a minor fender-bender that probably wasn't repaired correctly (like a pinched bus cable or something?), and random features didn't work at all.I think this car suffered the same problem in the US that the VW Phaeton did, and probably would've done better if it was badged a Genesis from the get-go.
  • Analoggrotto Tesla owners are still smarter than anyone else, regardless.